Life with a working line GSD? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
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Life with a working line GSD?

I am considering getting a GSD as my next dog in a year, which give me plenty of time to research and plan ahead.

Thus far, I am looking into getting a GSD from a working line. I plan on being a professional pet dog trainer, but realistically I will be working as a dog walker to earn the bulk of my income the first few yea after dog training academy. Obviously my dog is planned to accompany me in this line of work through out the way. I also live a very active life style regardless, and I do want to do SAR work with my new GSD.

However, with that said, I am also very low energy inside the house and likes to keep things calm. I also want to take my dog out to bbqs and cafe, etc.

Is this balance( high drive, motivated, energetic for work, yet calm in the house and in public setting) an unrealistic expectation for a working line dog? or is it possible? I'm not talking about a dog being calm only after heavy physical exercise but rather just there generally capability to do so.

I understand there will always be exception to the rule, but I'm just trying to be as real with my expectation as possible, so I guess my question apply to the general/typical working line GSD.

Also how are they in general with strangers/kids/other dogs? Again not from a nurture standpoint but from a nature stand point.

PLease feel free to share as much informaiton as posisble about your GSD and life with them. I want as clear a picture as I can get about living with a working line GSD.

Breeders I am currently looking at it

German Shepherd Breeders | Vom Banach K9
Witmer-Tyson Imports - German Shepherds, Law Enforcement Training, and Equipment

anyone with expeirence with them? or know of any other in Norcal?

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 04:35 AM
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I have a working line GSD. We do advanced obedience (looking into competitive obedience) and agility. He does just fine in my 400 sq ft apartment. The big thing is I get him out pretty much every day - two walks, two training sessions, fetch, etc. We also do at least one big hike every week (about 6-10 miles) and have agility practice. As long a you meet your dog's physical and mental needs, you should be fine. Kaiju settles nicely in the house, and will stay calm even when I have days that we don't get to do much. If it extends to three or more days, he'll start getting antsy but has a good off switch because settling in the house is something we've practiced. But other than that, I don't have problems. I even have lazy days where he'll be content with a nice morning walk and then settle in and watch Netflix with me. But if I want to get up and go, he'll go for miles with me.

As for strangers and such, most GSD's are very aloof, but it's something that will vary with personality. Mine LOVES people, is usually rather aloof with dogs and some kids. But from what I've seen, not super common.

In short, I think it is completely realistic for a working line dog. The most important thing will be finding a breeder you trust and being very detailed about what EXACTLY you are looking for in a dog so they can give you the best possible match. Be open and honest about any questions they have of you and any concerns about your goals. Have you visited with any SAR teams? Found some people who will offer roles as mentors while you learn the job? From what I understand, SAR is very intense and it would be best to get involved before you even get your pup as a good SAR team will also be able to give you advice about who might provide the best matches for you vis a vis puppies.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 08:29 AM
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if you are going through some expensive academy to "learn" dog training and quote OP " I plan on being a professional pet dog trainer, but realistically I will be working as a dog walker to earn the bulk of my income the first few yea after dog training academy." , you should have some skills in managing a dog.

Think of all the variety in temperaments , energy , and training-or-not that you will have in your clients dogs, especially if you are going to walk or transport or dog-park with several dogs at one time.

Are you sure you are comfortable with the GSD as a breed?
OP "I want as clear a picture as I can get about living with a working line GSD."
Once again there can be a variety of drives and emphasis , energy etc, just as there can be with the show lines .

If you want to do SAR the selection, raising and training and environment the dog is in are very important .
The focus has to be on the development of that one on one relationship , the finesse of reading the dog , the development and building of drives, and rewards structure. So much involvement with other dogs is going to erode some of the focus , constantly rewarded with dog-party atmosphere .

If you want to do SAR then you have to find the real deal not something that looks the part , and that includes drive and endurance and tenacity , a fire in the belly for the work
Any ways to ensure (or increase chance of) dog's approval in SAR?

I think you still need to think some things out before you go looking for a breeder.



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Last edited by carmspack; 08-18-2014 at 08:32 AM.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 08:45 AM
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Delgado is a DDR/WG/Czech WL

Not all GSD's are friendly with other dogs outside of their own pack, so make sure to look for a breeder who tries to ensure dog aggression is not a genetic factor.

His breeder had two young children so he was around them for 9 weeks but outside of that he has had very little specific interaction with children. But the times he has been around kids he's been nothing but a perfect gentleman. He was chewing a bone on his bed once and one of the children we had visiting jumped on his bed (entirely my fault, I was expecting her to run past him), he simply stopped and licked her cheek then calmly went back to chewing.

Strangers he's aloof with, if you have food he'll give you his attention but once it's gone you are no longer interesting. He watches everything with that GSD intensity but so far his reactions have always been appropriate and neutral. He does just fine with crowds and loud noises including music festivals and fireworks, no reaction at all. He really is a take anywhere dog for that.

Dogs outside his pack, he is dog reactive. Not over the top but he will bark, with time and training that has greatly improved but it's still a work in progress. Playing wise I have to match him carefully - if the dog is too submissive mostly he will overpower and bully them, he will call off fine and is learning to curb that. If the dog is too aggressive or pushy Delgado will escalate it, sometimes he'll simply put the dog in its place but I don't want to take the chance and don't allow him to bully.

Delgado does have an off-switch, it took time and training. He needed maturity and the boundaries to access it, but he does need both physical and mental stimulation daily. A quick session of fetch outside and some obedience will do, but at least a few times a week he needs a good blowout and running session. I use a treadmill when I can't get him outside and it's been a wonderful help

Overall having Delgado has been a very positive experience. He loves to be around and work with me, he's my constant shadow and just lights up when I ask him to do something. He loves to be challenged and learn new things and see new sights, he's adaptable and easy going. Stubborn at times but he's learned I'm always going to be more stubborn He needs guidelines and rules, otherwise he'll do what he wants and doesn't always make the right choices but he knows what gets him rewarded and what gets him scolded.

Health wise he's been a gem, not a sick day in his life. Outside of a few minor injuries he's only seen the vet for his normal check-ups, and my vet just adores him. He was licking my vet's face as blood was being drawn and held perfectly still, nothing fazes him

Honestly outside of the dog reactivity he literally would be the perfect dog in all aspects but I don't expect him to be perfect 100% of the time just as I can't expect the same of myself

Looking at your list I could see a WL GSD doing just fine if you're matched with the right pup. There's at least one person here that has a Vom Banach pup and seems happy, here's the thread and you can contact her


My Pack:

Jasmine - Female Miniature Poodle - born Aug 15, 2010
Loker Delgado Von Stalworth - Male GSD - born Jan 26, 2012
Koda & Zazu - 7 year old male cats
Alex - Male Cocker Spaniel (rescue) - RIP Cuddlebug 2007-2010
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Last edited by Shade; 08-18-2014 at 08:47 AM.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 09:08 AM
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I have shared my life with 4 working line GSD. They all had a job, and all had an owner that lives to watch TV. If they got their needed excersise and mental stimulation they have all been able to settle just fine in the house.

All of my dogs are fine in public. Some more outwardly friendly than others. None have been great with other dogs outside their pack. Their pack included friends and coworkers dogs. None of my dogs were outwardly dog aggressive. Usually they were neutral to them unless approached in a rude manner.

So yes it's possible, what you are asking for. All of my dogs have been a bit different in lineage.

I have a vom Banach dog. He is 19 months and I adore him. I am hoping to use him as a USAR HRD dog. He is doing well with the beginning stages of work he is doing. But only time will tell if he makes the cut.

If you have questions about him feel free to PM me.

"So that others may live"

Hannah vom Steffenhaus, BH, Wilderness SAR
Eisenhower v.d Polizei "Ike" Wilderness SAR, CGC
B'Lena z. Treuenhanden
Nixon vom Banach, RATN
Phoster, FEMA USAR(Labrador)
Ch. Pennywise Sticky Wicket(Dandie Dinmont Terrier)
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 09:21 AM
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I have had WL GSD, WGSL GSD, and cross. ALL puppies and young GSDs have been a lot of work. After 18 months or so, all my GSDs regardless of lines have been decent house pets, not destroying the house, OK with the other dogs, not requiring to be crated when I'm not there. But that took a lot of work on my part with initial management, slowly learning freedom and what is expected in the house. I don't think it has anything to do with working lines vs. other lines. In fact I've met a lot of show lines that act hyper and unsettled. IMO, no decent GSD *puppy* is going to be low drive, quiet, and calm in the house, but they can learn that and settle really well with an off switch.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 09:54 AM
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How much experience do u have with dogs in general? Couldn't tell by your post. Just a thought if you don't have a lot....A good place to start could be volunteering at well run rescues and shelters. Maybe familiarize yourself with more breeds. I started with mutts, labs and now my WGSL. If you don't have the time or finances, it can be difficult to start off with GSD.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 12:10 PM
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I have two West German working line GSDs, and both are house pets / companions first and working dogs / sport dogs second. My female is more spirited and energetic than my male, but both settle beautifully in the home and go with us everywhere. We go camping, visit family, traveling, they accompany us practically everywhere and they are (almost) always well behaved and calm. They get excited if we are going somewhere "for dogs" but they both have that on/off switch I value so much.

Both dogs are trustworthy in the home. My male, especially, would not destroy or get into anything in my home. I could literally leave a plate of human food on the floor, he wouldn't touch it. He is my dream dog, I say that a lot, because he is literally the easiest dog I have ever had the pleasure of working with - and he is still a phenomenal driven working dog. He is no effort. I can stay at home for a week and do nothing, and he won't cause trouble or be crazy from lack of exercise. That is saying a lot, I think... since he has so much drive for work on top of it. That's that on/off switch I love so much

Not every working line dog is like my two, I think you need to focus on the right pedigree and the right breeder to get this kind of dog. Lots of forum members here have working line dogs are active companions.

No matter what you get, all German Shepherds need lots of exercise, firm leadership, consistent lifelong training and regular mental stimulation for such an intelligent working breed.

SG S-Hunter vom Geistwasser CA CGN TT ATD (Airport Wildlife Control K9)
Zenna vom Geistwasser NTD

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Last edited by Wild Wolf; 08-18-2014 at 12:14 PM.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 12:24 PM
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Lisl is a working line Czech/WG K9 GSD. She has more drive in all areas, and a lower thresholds than any of my other GSD's did.

She has settled down as she has matured and earned her house privileges when she was 15 months old. It was a lot of work and consistent training and teaching her boundaries, but it was well worth it in the end. She was potty trained at four months.

She was also easier to teach than my other pet line and ASL GSD's. She has an ability to focus that I've not seen in the other dogs. She catches on very quickly. She is also very lovable and affectionate towards me, but is still sometimes very independent.

Life is good with Lisl.

Bear, Anna, Molly, Ossie, and The Countess Lisl von Schlaf

An Unhappy German is a Sour Kraut!

Last edited by MichaelE; 08-18-2014 at 12:27 PM.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-01-2014, 01:49 AM Thread Starter
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I actually have a rescue pitbull mix (low drive, low-med energy) and a rat terrier I found as a stray (high drive but very good on/off switch). I am lucky enough to have them as very very good pets. very respectful inside the house and good manner everywhere in general. I can go several days- week without a long walk for both and they'll be just as calm.

With that being said, I lack the experience of living with "the dog that NEEDS to be walk" or has any serious house manners. My dogs caught on to my rules and boundaries extremely quick, but I think that's just them by nature, a puppy especially one form a working line of course would require much more work than adult dogs which is why I am asking around.

Aside from my dogs, I work at a dog day care and volunteer at my local shelter so I do have a lot of experience with a variety of breeds including GSD. However I also understand that a GSD when away from it's owner is a very different dog at least form the 7-10 GSD I've met at my workplace (nervous, anxious, etc) and it's unfair to judge them by themself which I why I am asking around on here about a GSD true life when with his family.
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